Chip Ganassi Racing suing IndyCar champion Alex Palou amid ongoing contract dispute

Ganassi Alex Palou lawsuit
Greg Doherty/Getty Images

Chip Ganassi Racing has filed a lawsuit against Alex Palou, the latest bombshell in its ongoing contract dispute with the defending NTT IndyCar Series champion.

The filing, which was first reported by the Indianapolis Star, was processed Monday afternoon in Marion County Superior Court, according to documents posted on the commercial court’s website. The defendants listed in the civil case are Palou and ALPA Racing in Barcelona, Spain. Both have been issued summons, according to Ganassi’s legal team.

Palou’s services have been claimed by two racing teams for 2023. Ganassi released a statement July 12 that a contract option had been exercised to keep Palou for the 2023 season. In a series of tweets hours later, Palou denied that he would return to Ganassi next season.

McLaren Racing then announced Palou would join its organization next season.

In its court filing, Chip Ganassi Racing has asked the court to seal its motion for preliminary injunction because it “contains confidential business information including, but not limited to, sensitive information that concerns — and is deemed confidential by — the parties’ contractual agreements.”

The team also submitted seven exhibits of evidence in support of its case, four of which were sealed. Three were unsealed: Palou’s tweet thread disputing Ganassi’s announced extension; McLaren Racing’s tweet confirming his signing; and the McLaren Racing release on Palou’s addision.

In the filing, Ganassi also asked for expedited discovery to prepare for a hearing requested before the end of August. The IndyCar season ends with the Sept. 11 race at Laguna Seca Raceway.

In a statement on its court filing, Chip Ganassi Racing said, “Alex Palou is under contract with Chip Ganassi Racing through the end of the 2023 season. He is a valued member of our team, and we will continue to support him in chasing wins, podiums, and INDYCAR championships. As the result of a competing racing team improperly attempting to contract with him notwithstanding the clear terms of our contract, we are proceeding to legal process pursuant to the contract.

“Any and all inquiries on the matter will be handled by our legal counsel.”

Though highly unusual for a racing team to initiate legal proceedings against its driver, the lawsuit was expected. Arrow McLaren SP driver Felix Rosenqvist, whose 2023 racing fate depends on what happens with Palou, predicted after his third-place finish at Toronto that the dispute would be settled in court, and that he believed Palou would be sidelined for 2023 as a result.

Palou has made three starts since the dispute went public, finishing sixth at Toronto and then sixth and 13th at Iowa Speedway last weekend.

The first Spanish champion in IndyCar history also revealed at Iowa that he no longer has remote access to Ganassi’s engineering and setup data.

“I don’t have the access I had before to the data and all that stuff from home,” Palou said. “When I’m here, I have it. Not from home like the same I had before. Which I understand. It’s normal. I think I’d do the same if it was my team. It changed, but I understand it. It’s not that I’m out of meetings and stuff like that.”

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.